Illegal allocation of hunting licenses linked to US ban on Zimbabwe’s elephant tusks

via Illegal allocation of hunting licenses linked to US ban on tusks | SW Radio Africa  April 9, 2014

The unlawful allocation of hunting licenses in Zimbabwe in recent years has been pegged as a major factor in the decision by the United States to ban hunted elephant trophies.

The US wildlife department announced last week that it was suspending the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania, citing questionable management practices and a lack of effective law enforcement.

In a statement on its website, the US wildlife department said: “Given the current situation on the ground in both Tanzania and Zimbabwe, the Service is unable to make positive findings required under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Endangered Species Act to allow import of elephant trophies from these countries.”

It added: “Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species.”

The ban comes of the back of the poaching crisis that hit Hwange National Park last year, where hundreds of elephants were killed by poachers using the deadly cyanide chemical. The ban also comes amid a fresh threat to Zimbabwe’s protected Presidential Elephant Herd, after the takeover of a piece of land in Hwange that serves as the herd’s home range.

That takeover defies a Cabinet directive from last year that the land was ‘state owned’ and all offer letters for it must be withdrawn. Conservation groups meanwhile have raised concern for the safety of the Presidential elephants, because the woman who has claimed the land is related to a local hunting operator.

Johnny Rodrigues, the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) told SW Radio Africa that the ZANU PF government’s history of illegally handing out land claims and hunting permits to party officials and loyalists means the entire hunting business in Zimbabwe has fallen into disrepute. The ZCTF warned that in recent months hunting permits have been handed out along the lines of the country’s indigenisation laws. Rodrigues said this leads to untrained, unregulated hunting operators acting in an unsustainable manner.

“A lot of hunters do hunting in an ethical manner, and they plow a lot back into conservation. But the uncontrollable way in which a person who has no experience in hunting, suddenly gets issued permits to have hunting, is a real problem,” Rodrigues said.

National Parks in 2012 year issued hunting permits to 25 so-called indigenous ‘farmers’ who were given land in the wildlife-rich Save Valley Conservancy in the Lowveld. This was said to be part of the government’s ‘wildlife based land reform’ exercise, saying beneficiaries have been allocated 25-year land leases in conservancies throughout the Masvingo province.

Included in the list of beneficiaries were top ZANU PF officials and loyalists, including war vets leader Joseph Chinotimba, Major General Gibson Mashingaidze, Major General Engelbert Rugeje, Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke, then ZANU PF Masvingo provincial chair Lovemore Matuke, then Deputy Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora, ZANU PF’s central committee member Enock Porusingazi, as well as ZANU PF MPs Alois Baloyi, Abraham Sithole, Samson Mukanduri and Noel Mandebvu.

ZANU PF’s Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has since likened the US ban on Zim elephant trophies to “sanctions on the elephants”.

Rodrigues said this position was hardly surprising, because top party officials are involved in the majority of hunting operations across the country.

“For years the very wealthy people in America have been coming to Zim to hunt, and then you have the top dogs in Zimbabwe who own most of the hunting concessions, and they’re going to feel the pinch now and they can’t be as greedy as they were,” Rodrigues said.

He meanwhile added that things like photographic tourism would be of more benefit to Zimbabwe in the long term.

“If we had the tourism coming into the country, it would generate ten times the amount that hunting generates,” Rodriques said.



  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 10 years ago

    The cake is getting smaller and smaller. The ZANU mafia has feeding tentacles sucking each and every corner of Zimbabwe. They will never tire of the billions they are looting.
    Treasonous malcontents.

  • comment-avatar
    Reverend 10 years ago

    “If we had the tourism coming into the country, it would generate ten times the amount that hunting generates,” Rodriques said.

    Yep and pigs with wings would be able to fly!

    The sad thing to note is that this is going to affect areas where hunters have had game scouts out patrolling and the places will be left open for poachers to wreak havoc. I believe this decision by the US fish & wild life is a death sentence for Zims elephant population just like what happened in Kenya. It will destroy the economic value of the elephant and the National Parks will lose what little controll they have of the situation and we will see an uncontrollable demise of elephants for their ivory to sell to these unscrupulous chinese. Goodness they are the pitts!
    The financial burden to Zim will be terrible and I believe thousands of people in Zim will lose their jobs and just another setback for us from the good old u s a!